MONTROSE -- A man on trial for causing a deadly crash that killed a U.S. Marine has entered a guilty plea.
Right before the jury would have heard opening statements, Arlan Taft, 60, from Tioga, pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless endangerment in exchange for prosecutors dropping the most serious charges including homicide by vehicle.
Taft left the courthouse in Montrose with his family after admitting his role in the deadly crash in January 2015 in Springville Township. He was driving a water truck for a company in the natural gas industry.
Taft was unable to stop that day near Springville and plowed into Staff Sgt. Andrew Stevens' vehicle, causing a fire and killing the 27-year-old U.S. Marine.
The Stevens family, including his widow, was in court and tells Newswatch 16 they're pleased with the outcome of the case.
"It gives us a little more peace and we're grateful he did take responsibility and we can put this behind us," said Amanda Novitch, the victim's sister.
"It's not that we were hoping for anything harsh, we just wanted him to take responsibility for his actions and we're grateful he did that."
"It's tragic. It shouldn't have happened," said defense attorney Ernie Preate. "He missed his shift coming down the hill and his brakes failed. That's the problem."
Defense attorneys planned to argue at trial that Taft's truck that day needed maintenance it didn't receive, including the brakes.
"They gave him a death trap to drive that day and he didn't know it," Preate said.
Even though the family is suing the company, Canyon Environmental, for millions, they still hold Taft, the driver that day, responsible.
"He was in control of that vehicle, regardless of who he thought he had to place the blame on, he was responsible of that vehicle," Novitch said.
Taft is scheduled to be sentenced in late October. His attorney believes he'll get probation.
The family of Staff Sgt. Stevens is suing Taft's employer at the time, Canyon Environmental, in civil court.